Recently Neutral Source posted a discussion of whether benefit-cost analysis is ethical, using China’s Three Gorges Dam as an illustration. Benefit-cost analysis has many opponents in U.S. regulatory settings. Some like Lisa Heinzerling of Georgetown University Law Center have argued strenuously that the methods are “inherently flawed” and thus inappropriate for informing decision-making, much less for guiding them. We were intrigued because environmentalist opponents of the Three Gorges Dam are plentiful, but we could not locate any who said that the decision whether to build it ought not rest on a rather strict normative application of benefit-cost analysis. Rather, all the objections we have found concern whether the analysis was performed properly.
The Environmental News Service reports that the Three Gorges Dam will “open” on June 6. Cofferdams that were built as temporary barriers are scheduled to be demolished by explosion that day.